Hundreds of convicted terrorists who have served their prison sentences in the UK are now back on the streets without having attended deradicalization programs or renouncing their ideology, according to an investigation by Sky News.
Out of the 583 convicted of terrorism-related offenses since the 9/11 attacks, some three quarters (418) have now served their sentences and been released, the investigation found. However, of those released, two-thirds refused to engage with deradicalization programs in prison that sought to counter their radical views.
Those released include three men convicted of assisting in the 2005 7/7 bombings of the London Underground.
The news comes as senior police officers spoke out about their efforts to prevent jihadists from accessing illegal firearms.
“Despite our good work, we know that firearms can enter the criminal market through a variety of means, including thefts from legitimate holders or dealers,” London’s Metropolitan Police’s counter-terrorism chief Mark Rowley told Russia Today (RT).
“Law enforcement, together with security and intelligence services, are working tirelessly to locate these weapons, confront the terrorist threat and keep the public safe.”
Two years ago, some 800 licensed firearms went missing. Since then, the police have thwarted five attempts by jihadists to purchase illegal firearms, according to RT.
“Suppressing the availability of illegal firearms in the UK has never been a more significant priority for the law enforcement community,” said National Crime Agency Director General Lynne Owens.
“Criminal networks, who think nothing about who they sell firearms to, present a significant route by which extremist groups will try to access the sort of weapons used in recent attacks in Europe,” she added.
Britain’s most senior spy, Andrew Parker, the director general of MI5, also warned about the dangers posed by international Islamist terrorism in an interview with the Guardian.
The interview is the first that any head of MI5 has given in the organization’s 107 year long history. Until 1993, even the identities of MI5’s director generals were kept as state secrets.
“International terrorism in its latest shape, based on twisted ideology, brings terror to our streets and most of the developed world, including North America, Australia and Turkey,” he said. “Currently, the flavor of it is Daesh, or ISIL [Islamic State], and we still have the al-Qaida brand. This is something we have to understand: it’s here to stay. It is an enduring threat and it’s at least a generational challenge for us to deal with.”
He told the Guardian that MI5 thwarted 12 terrorist plots in the last three years and that more attacks would inevitably be on the way.
“That sort of tempo of terrorist plot and attempts is concerning and it’s enduring. Attacks in this country are higher than I have experienced in the rest of my career – and I’ve been working at MI5 for 33 years. The reality is that because of the investment in services like mine, the UK has got good defenses. My expectation is that we will find and stop most attempts at terrorism in this country.”